Tales from deepest Ngaruawahia
After threading the needle lane splitting through the early morning Auckland peak hour traffic in torrential rain, my first stop was the small town of Ngaruawahia, a little over 2 hours from my start point, where I planned to track down Paul Bryant, owner and creative genius of Viking Exhausts. Being a small New Zealand town, I knew the local post office, which opened at nine, would be able to help me out. A few of the passing locals noted my drenched state and questioned my grasp on reality. One bloke commented that he usually rode his bike every day, but with today’s downpour, he woosed out. After a bit of motorcycle banter, I dropped the question, “Do you know a bloke round here by the name of Paul Bryant, owns Viking Exhausts?” Well this bloke shuffles through his pockets and from his wallet, extracts a business card and drops it on the table in front of me. You guessed it. He was Paul Bryant.
After a little further conversation, Paul invited me to have a look at “Viking Exhausts World Head
During a recent riding trip through New Zealand, Bryce Bathe came across Paul Bryant, the man behind Viking Exhausts. Here’s the scoop:
Quarters”. This was an offer I could not refuse, considering that nine months previously, he had built a beautiful pair of “Black Cap” mufflers for my classic 1975 Triumph T160 Trident, a transaction that transpired entirely on line. Being in the neighbourhood, I just needed to find this bloke, and thank him face to face for his excellent craftsmanship and fabulous service. I was fortunate to spend 3 hours with Paul, learning the finer details of building motorcycle exhaust systems. Mufflers not only have to look “right” and fit perfectly, baffles need to be designed to get the right sound.
Perfecting the baffle design for his Norton Commando “whistler” mufflers is another of Paul’s clever achievements. Creating the perfect bend in an exhaust tube with the exact flare to glide into perfect position is a remarkable feat of engineering. All custom exhaust systems are fitted up on the engine/frame units so that mounts can be tailormade, resulting in the system being simple to fit by its installer. All nuts, bolts, washers and clamps are supplied, leaving nothing to chance. Every order is individually made to the purchaser’s requirements. Paul also built his own tube bender, with very clever mandrels and degree plates to make his work accurate, perfectly smooth and quick. As Paul explained, “It’s like riding the perfect line in a series of bends on a motorcycle. Both need to be approached with passion, commitment and an eye for that smooth line”. Not only can this man build the perfect exhaust, he is a rabid motorcycle enthusiast and clever engineer to boot. That’s why he is the best. Once polished to perfection, all parts of the exhaust system are dispatched for bright or black chroming. The result; gleaming seamless perfection, ready to be packaged and posted to what will be a very satisfied customer.
With the assistance of his son, Paul is currently expanding from this 70s-only exhaust systems and designing something for Triumph’s Rocket Three. It would be great to see this cottage industry roll on to the next generation. Check out Paul’s website: www.VikingExhaust.com Phone: (64) 7 824 8105 or Mobile (6)4 27 242 0781, email: [email protected]ingexhaust.com
LEFT Viking Exhausts World Headquarters. RIGHT Alignment Test Jig.
The man himself with engine units mounted in motorcycle frames.